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Baxter Clinic nears opening day, provides glimpse of things to come

The sun shined into a waiting room at Essentia Health St. Joseph's - Baxter Clin1 / 3
Essentia Health St. Joseph's - Baxter Clinic is set to open February 6 on Isle D2 / 3
Clinic Administrator Bill Palmer gave a tour of Essentia Health St. Joseph's - B3 / 3

BAXTER — The waiting rooms are empty and the halls are quiet at the new medical clinic in Baxter, but that will change soon.

After years of planning and months of construction, the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Baxter Clinic will open Feb. 6.

Among the changes, Urgent Care will move from Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic on South Sixth Street to the Baxter clinic. Other departments making the move are physical therapy, obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics.

In the move from Brainerd to Baxter are eight of the 16 family medicine doctors. The other eight family medicine doctors are staying with the Brainerd clinic along with internal medicine physicians and 12 other medical specialities.

Patients will notice a number of changes from the building design, to access of health care services and increased options to being able to electronically check in on their own health care records and test results at a faster pace than may have ever been possible before.

Baxter Clinic Administrator Bill Palmer said another change is providing more same-day service for walk-in patients. Palmer said physician’s schedules were examined and restructured so patients would have more opportunities to see their primary care physician, even on a walk-in basis. To do that, slots are being created in the doctor’s schedules to accommodate expected walk-in patients. Palmer said patients will have more options, whether as a walk-in or by calling ahead to schedule a same-day appointment with their physician through UrgentCare or ConvenientCare at Cub Foods.

Through the Essentia MyHealth access, patients will be able to send emails to their doctor’s office, request appointments online and review their own medical history. With this service, patients will be able to have access to test results just a few hours after a clinic appointment. The service is free and Essentia Health reports the information is available 24 hours a day each day of the week through a secure online portal. Both the Brainerd and Baxter clinics will have pharmacies. And with the imaging labs now at the clinic, patients will be able to schedule physicals and mammograms for the same day, instead of making two trips — one to the hospital for the doctor’s appointment and then going to the hospital for the imaging services.

Kevin Donnay, project architect with Widseth Smith Nolting, said the design emphasis was to incorporate natural light and create waiting areas screened for added privacy. Glass panels and skyline glass laminated with different textures was used to simulate the images of tree branches to provide the privacy screening while letting in the abundant natural light. Artwork, including pieces by local artists, is highlighted throughout the clinic.

Patient and community member focus groups were incorporated into the planning process for the clinic’s design. The desire for more private waiting areas and a pedestrian-friendly entrance were part of the focus group feedback. A circular drive in front of the clinic provides the access to drop people off by the front entrance.

The family medicine area is designed with a physician and health-care staff space in the center with 12 exam rooms surrounding it to follow a team model for staff. Donnay said the clinic was designed to be patient centered. With medical records now electronic files instead of the traditional paper charts, exam rooms feature computer keyboards.

The family medicine department, Urgent Care and imaging labs — such as mammography, X-ray and ultrasound, blood draw areas — are on the main level. Pediatrics and the women’s speciality clinic, along with physical therapy, are all on the second floor, which is accessible by the stairs or by elevator.

This week final touches on exam rooms were being completed in preparation for opening day. The clinic on Isle Drive is visible from Highway 371, and accessed off Glory Road near Walmart.

A grand opening celebration is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 25 with a free soup luncheon, health fair, clinic tours and opportunity to meet physicians and staff.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852